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The Aucuba japonica is a small evergreen shrub with erect habit originating in Japan. The adult specimens reach about two meters in height, although often the dimensions of these plants remain smaller; the foliage is dense and roundish, the branches and the stem are bright green.
Aucuba is an evergreen shrub extremely used in the furnishing of parks and gardens for its particular resistance to cold, drought, pollution, wind and disease. It is also grown in pots to decorate interior spaces, such as entrances.
If kept in an apartment or interior space, it rarely exceeds the meter, but outside it can reach from 2 to 3.50 m in height and in width.
Aucuba japonica, or simply aucuba, belongs to the Cornaceae family and is native to the Asian continent.
It is characterized by persistent bright green foliage, often speckled. The large oval and leathery leaves, with a serrated edge, are arranged in pairs.
The leaves are large, cuoiose, glossy, and usually the most cultivated species are those with variegated leaves, such as A. j. variegated, with bright green leaves variegated with white, or A. crotonifolia, with green or variegated orange or red leaves.
At the beginning of spring they produce panicles made up of small brown flowers, followed in autumn, in female specimens, by showy red berries, which remain on the plant until spring.
To obtain an abundant production of berries, it is advisable to place at least two neighboring specimens, one male and one female.
The female plants produce small clusters in spring and bright red, inedible, oval-shaped berries at the beginning of winter. But the production of fruits is possible only if the female specimen is planted near a male specimen. Beware of aucuba leaves and berries because they are toxic: ingestion can cause irritation of the oral mucosa, severe gastric disturbances and nausea.
This type of plant prefers semi-shady locations, and fears places in full sun, an element that could ruin the plant seriously if it remains exposed for a long time. These plants are quite hardy and resistant and can adapt even to less than optimal conditions, but too intense sun can ruin them irreparably, while they are much more resistant for what concerns the harsh climate.
This variety, in fact, does not fear the cold, although it is advisable to keep it away from cold winter winds, to avoid that too low temperatures ruin the outer leaves.
Aucuba can be planted in the shade or in partial shade as it does not need much light to grow. In fact it resists very well even in positions with very limited brightness, for example in an entrance hall or on a landing.
Aucuba japonica in short
|Type of plant||Shrub with decorative foliage|
|Use||Interior, balcony or terrace, borders, hedges or isolated plant|
|Height at maturity||From 60 cm to 3.50 m|
|Diseases and pests||Cochineal, gray mold|
The speckled varieties take on very beautiful colors in the sun, while the partial shade exposure favors the development of the red berries.
Thanks to the particular aesthetic characteristics and resistance, the aucuba can be used
• to create a hedge
• for borders
• in a courtyard
• for a large evergreen bush in a flower bed
• to decorate a balcony or terrace
• in the interior spaces of a home.
Aucuba does not tolerate high temperatures, instead it resists very well, even if for short periods, at cold temperatures (-150).
Aucuba cultivation Cultivation EasyMaintenance poorExposure Half shade, shadowTopsoil Clay soil, sandy, rich in humusCleaning / Pruning February-AprilWater needs Limitedwatering Regular in summer and sporadic in winterSoil moisture drainedComposting Spring-summer periodPropagation Sowing, cuttingTemperature Ideal temperature: around 200 degrees, but withstands for short periods even at -150.Aucuba in the ground
For the planting of the aucuba in full ground, dig a hole with a depth and a width of about 60 cm.
Remove the remaining roots, pebbles or weeds from the soil, and add organic matter, such as manure. If the soil in which it is planted is not very draining, add coarse sand.
Proceed in this way for the planting:
• place the plant in water to rehydrate it
• untangle the roots if necessary
• place the shrub in the center of the hole
• fill the hole with the soil prepared previously
• press the soil and water it abundantly.
During the following weeks the plant needs abundant watering, especially if the planting was carried out in the spring period. If you intend to create a hedge, place the plants at a certain distance from each other (from 80 cm to about 100 cm).
Aucuba in vase
If you plant the aucuba in a pot, place it in small ceramic or terracotta pots with a diameter of 12 cm to 15 cm if the plant is small, and from 13 cm to 20 cm if the plant is already large.
Place a layer of gravel or expanded clay balls on the bottom of the vase to help drainage. Fill with the soil prepared previously, place the seedling in the center, making sure that the roots are not intertwined. Fill the empty spaces with the soil. Lightly compress the soil and water just a little, place the pot in partial shade, away from direct sunlight.
If the aucuba is used for the realization of a hedge, pruning is necessary, otherwise you can do without it: limit yourself to eliminate the dried leaves and the ruined branches, or thin out the branches, if necessary. Do not prune in autumn or winter, otherwise you risk losing the beautiful berries that adorn the plant throughout the winter, and return it to the February-April period.
In plants used for hedges cut the dry branches, those too weak or that protrude in some way from the plant. The base of the hedge must be wider than the top: in this way all the parts of the plant will be equally illuminated. Plants that have grown too large and are bare at the base can be pruned decisively in April.
The aucuba calendar
|Talea||From July to September|
|Planting||September-October or March-April|
|Pruning||February, March, April|